Heat Wave is Coming to California - How Bad is It? Where at the Hottest Spots? What Can You Do?

July 24th, 2018



EPISIDE 49 of Cal OES All Hazards Podcast

July 24, 2018

California will be blasted with heat advisories and excessive heat warnings as temperatures will be between 10 to 15 degrees above normal Tuesday through Thursday. Why is that so dangerous, and what do you need to know to stay cool and safe? In this Cal OES news update, we get answers from the National Weather Service.

Public information officer Bryan May interviews National Weather Service science and operations officer and meteorologist Kris Mattarochia. They discuss the incredibly hot weather rolling into California. How this weather can put a stress on the energy grid and what you can do to releave the stress on the energy grid with some simple steps.




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State Fire Chief Reflects on 40-Year Career as he Prepares to Ride Code-3 into the Sunset

July 3rd, 2018

Kim Zagaris, or Chief Z as some call him, is the State Fire and Rescue Chief for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES); he was appointed on April 1, 2001. He admits his appointment rattled cages, nerves and even a few careers. He’s not only survived the highly political position, he’s succeeded. In this episode (#48) of All Hazards Chief Z reflects on his storied career, the changes he’s seen at Cal OES and in the business of putting the wet stuff on the red stuff, and what he’s learned.


Prior to his appointment, he was the Assistant Fire Chief for Cal OES with assignments in Region I, II, III, IV and V since 1987. He started his career as a Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) seasonal firefighter in 1977 and promoted through the ranks of the local, state and federal fire agencies to the State Fire and Rescue Chief. Chief Zagaris has extensive background in fire service, emergency management, and homeland security which includes working with local, state, federal and international agencies over the last 40 years.


As the State Fire and Rescue Chief, Chief Zagaris serves as the Executive Coordinator for Cal OES Fire and Rescue Services Advisory Committee/ FIRESCOPE Board of Directors. The Board provides a State level forum for addressing Statewide Mutual Aid, Incident Command System, Multi-Agency Coordination, Resource Typing, Training, Certification, Safety, Standardization and Fire Protection issues of statewide concern. Chief Zagaris is responsible for managing the FIRESCOPE Program, California Incident Command Certification System, the California Fire Assistance Agreement, State Assistance for Fire Equipment Program, as well as, serve on numerous state and national committees, associations and programs, including Cal OES representation on the California State Strategic Committee on Terrorism, the California Wildfire Coordination Group, the National Fire Protection Association 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, he currently chairs the International Fire Chiefs Associations (IAFC) Emergency Management Committee/ National Fire Service Mutual Aid System, the National Fire Service Incident Management System Consortium. He is the past chair of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Mutual Aid/ Resource Typing Project Team, and a past member of the National Incident Management System ICS Competencies Change Management Board, and the National Wildfire Coordination Group/ Urban Interface Working Team.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services owns 114 all-risk Type I Fire Engines, 40 Type III Fire Engines, 12 Water Tenders, 6 Communications/ Support Units, 13 Swift Water Rescue Caches, 12 Type II Hazardous Material Unit and manages California’s 8 Local/State/National Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces in cooperation with those sponsoring agencies. Chief Zagaris is responsible for several major program elements including the day-to-day management of the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, which includes over 1,100 fire agencies, and some 55,000 professional and volunteer firefighters that operate approximately 6,000 fire engines Statewide.


Oklahoma City Bombing: California Sent its Best to Midwest Terror Response

OESNews.com Podcasts

Cal OES Home Page





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Rattlesnake Encounters and How to Avoid Them: We’re Hands-on for Your Sssafety!

June 19th, 2018

In this episode we tag along with professional rattlesnake wrangler Lou Fraser, and state park ranger Kerrie Launey. Fraser shows us the kind of habitat in which rattlesnakes can be found, and educates us on their some of their behavior and some of the mistakes people make that lead to bites, all while catching four of the venomous reptiles. Meanwhile, California park ranger Launey tells us about snakes in parks and what you can expect, and she gives us tips for avoiding an unwanted encounter, and what to do in the event you are bitten. 

We also have a video that accompanies this podcast at the link below. you'll also find a really cool (and creepy) slideshow.


INSIDE LOOK: Rattlesnake Awareness, Warm Weather Tips and Backyard Pool Safety (VIDEO)

Snakes Slither Into Summer (oesnews.com)

Lou Fraser's Rattlesnake Removal USA

Rattlesnakes in California (CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife)

Rattlesnake Safety (California Department of Parks and Recreation)

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Geared Up for “Super Thursday” at CSTI Hazmat Training

June 5th, 2018



Alex Cabassa, Cal OES Assistant Director, and CSTI Superintendent

Jim Tate, CSTI Emergency Management Coordinator Instructor-2

In this episode (#46) we take you to Super Thursday, a sort of “final exam day” for students attending the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) Hazmat Specialist course. We talk with Alex Cabassa, Cal OES Assistant Director, and CSTI Superintendent about the uniqueness of the course, its hands-on approach and the facility in which it takes place.  We also talk with Jim Tate, CSTI Emergency Management Coordinator Instructor-2. He talks about the training itself and what students learn and how important it is.  There is a companion video for this podcast which can be found at oesnews.com after Thursday, June 7, 2018.

Under the reorganization of Cal OES, CSTI has evolved into a statewide enterprise with responsibility for supporting training, exercises and education in wide variety of areas including but not limited to; emergency management, public safety, homeland security, hazardous materials, disaster recovery and crisis communications. CSTI is no longer just defined by the San Luis Obispo campus you may be familiar with, but is being developed into a more holistic resource to support your needs whether you are a government, non-profit or private sector organization.

Be sure to visit oesnews.com to watch the companion video and see the many pictures taken during Super Thursday!


California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI)


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Filling the HazMat Response Capability Gaps in California

May 15th, 2018

Cal OES and 12 assignee local government fire departments are parties to a contractual agreement permitting the use of the Cal OES Type II HazMat Response Vehicles for local emergency response, out-of-service HazMat vehicles, training, exercises, and other needs.  In return, the assignee fire departments are required to dispatch the Cal OES Type II HazMat Response Vehicles anywhere in the state staffed by the required number of HazMat-trained personnel as requested through the California Fire & Rescue Mutual Aid System.  This brings the total number of “typed” HazMat Teams in California to 73.

In this episode we talk with a couple of department representatives who received an engine about what it means to their region, and we talked with a few of the Cal OES reps who worked hard to make these engines and their transfers happen.

  1. Larry Collins, Cal OES Deputy Chief, Fire & Rescue Branch
  2. Chuck Tobias, Cal OES Assistant Chief, Fire & Rescue Branch
  3. Jan Dunbar, Cal OES Assistant Chief, Fire & Rescue Branch
  4. Bill Schwarz, Engineer, Tracy Fire Department
  5. Lewis Broschard, Deputy Fire Chief, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District

Some of the VIPs who attended the ceremony:

  • Deputy Fire Chief Lewis Broschard: Contra Costa Fire Protection District 
  • Public Information Officer Steve Hill: Contra Costa Fire Protection District 
  • Battalion Chief Will Pryor: Los Angeles County Fire Department
  • Sutter County Fire Chief: Yuba City Fire Department John Shalowitz 
  • Bill Fuller: Yuba City Fire Department,  Yuba City Administrative Analysis
  • Chief Brian Dempsey: Seaside Fire Department 
  • Battalion Chief Dan Weaver: Susanville Fire Department 
  • Alan Ernst: Modesto Fire Department
  • Division Chief Mike Lillie: Modesto Fire Department


Cal OES HazMat

Cal OES HazMat Publications

Cal OES Newsroom



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The Thomas Fire: Critical Public Information During California’s Historic Wildfire

April 24th, 2018

Kelly Flanders

From December 4th to December 22nd, 2017, the Thomas Fire cost more than 177 million dollars to fight, and forced the evacuation of more than 104 thousand people and had 8,500 firefighters from 22 states simultaneously working to contain it. But let’s not forget about the public information efforts. Imagine what any large disaster would be like if you kept the affected communities in the dark, giving them zero information. No doubt you’d now have to deal with confusion, panic, anger and so much more. So, we’re going to talk with the person who managed public information for the City of Ventura, Kelly Flanders.

Kelly Flanders is the Communications Manager for the City of Ventura. In addition to the Thomas Fire PIO response, Kelly worked with partner agencies during the Grove Incident oil spill. She is a Ventura native and holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University.



City of Ventura

City of Ventura Thomas Fire Rebuild

Donate to the United Way of Ventura County Thomas Fire and Flood Fund

Ready Ventura County

Ventura County Emergency Information

Ventura County Recovers

Cal OES Wildfire Recovery Resources




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Six Months After the NorCal October 2017 Wildfires

April 10th, 2018

It's been six months since the October 2017 wildfires ravaged Northern Califorina. Through coordination with California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and in close partnership with FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA, Cal EPA and CalRecycle, all major work for the removal of fire and ash debris has now been completed in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Sonoma and Yuba counties. So far, nearly 1.7 million tons of debris, across all seven counties, have been removed. 

Since the Oct. 10 disaster declaration, nearly 4,500 households have been approved for FEMA individual assistance, for a total of more than $15.7 million. Of this amount, more than $9.6 million has been approved for housing assistance that can assist with home repairs or replacement, rental assistance to be used to find another place to live temporarily while repairs are being made to their home and more than $6.1 million for other needs assistance. Other needs assistance is a grant to pay for other uninsured or underinsured expenses such as disaster-related medical, dental or funeral costs or personal property losses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is another partner agency that plays an integral role in disaster recovery. The SBA provided assistance to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters in the form of low-interest disaster loans. The SBA has approved nearly 1,200 loans for homeowners, renters and businesses for more than $151 million.

We caught up with Assistant Fire Marshall Paul Lowenthal of the Santa Rosa Fire Department to talk with him about the challenges he and his community faced, what he and his deparment have learned and what changes have come into play in the short six months since the fires broke-out.




Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Signs Right of Entry Form, Begins His Own Recovery


Cal OES Flickr Images





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Sentinel Response 18 FSE and Interagency Cooperation

March 26th, 2018


(SGM Gerald Davis, center, looking at camera)

In recent months, California and our nation has been no stranger to devastating natural and man-made emergencies. So, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) joined the California National Guard’s Homeland Response Force (HRF) and 95th Civil Support Team, along with multiple State/Federal Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces, CAL FIRE, FBI, the Department of Energy, and several other elite emergency response agencies for a full-scale terrorism response exercise at Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena.

“In just the last year we’ve seen our highly trained emergency response and recovery teams deployed across the nation to lead critical lifesaving missions,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “This exercise will test those critical rescue and response skills, as well as enhance our ability to respond to real world events that could happen anywhere in California, our nation or in other parts of the world."

The training scenario involved a series of simultaneous terrorist attacks across Northern California following a 6.5-magnitude earthquake. The attacks include simulated improvised explosive devices (IED), the detonation of a simulated radiation-dispersal device (RDD) and firearms. Sleep Train Arena will serve as the training site for IED and RDD response, while Sonoma Raceway served as the site for active shooter response training. Hundreds of emergency-response personnel, vehicles, and aircraft participated.

“It’s only through regular, realistic training alongside our partner agencies that we keep our skills sharp and response times low,” said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General for the California National Guard. “These exercises establish the relationships and interagency coordination that is fundamental to an effective response during emergency incidents.”

In this episode we pull SGM Gerald Davis, of the California National Guard, to talk about organizing such a large and complex training exercise and why they're so important, and so important to make as real as possible.

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Active Shooter Incidents and Leaving the Patches on the Table

March 13th, 2018

The term active shooter has been in the news a lot lately, unfortunately.  Whether it’s Parkland, Florida, Marshall County, Kentucky, or Yountville, California, armed attacks often leave a trail of dead and injured and shock the communities in which they happen. It’s the kind of tragedy for which law enforcement trains yet can’t always prevent.

In this episode, Cal OES Law Enforcement Chief Mark Pazin, talks about how the agency has increased and improved its active shooter program, the training and some of the more recent challenges state and local law enforcement have faced in order to protect the public from potential attacks. He also expresses his firmly held belief of what it will take to reduce the number of active shooter (or active aggressor, as it’s more often called since not all attackers use firearms) incidents.

Mark Pazin, of Merced, was appointed chief of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Law Enforcement Branch in December, 2013. Pazin has been sheriff-coroner for Merced County since 2002, where he has served in multiple positions at the Sheriff’s Department since 1981, including area commander and assistant sheriff. Pazin has served on the Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission since 2011 and is a past president on the California State Sheriffs’ Association President’s Counsel. He earned a Master of Science degree in national security from the American Military University.


Cal OES Law Branch





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Haiti, Japan, Northridge and Loma Prieta Earthquakes and the Evolution of US&R

February 27th, 2018

Deputy Chief Larry Collins is the Cal OES Fire and Rescue Deputy Fire Chief of the Special Operations and Hazardous Material Unit, having joined Cal OES in November, 2016. He oversees the State Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Response Program which includes response, training, terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destructions related operations, flood and swiftwater rescue operations, and hazardous material unit.

Chief Collins joined Cal OES Fire and Rescue Division after serving 36 years in all ranks at the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD). He served up to the Battalion Chief position, with many years assigned to some of the busiest fire/rescue companies and battalions, and has 30 years of experience as a paramedic. He was assigned to three active LACoFD battalions and he spent 19 years as a Captain at the department’s Central Urban Search and Rescue Unit, responding by ground unit or helicopter to a wide variety of challenging technical rescues, multi-alarm fires, and major emergencies across Los Angeles County and surrounding counties. He was a Search Team Manager and Task Force Leader on LACoFD’s California OES/FEMA USAR Task Force (CA-TF2), deploying to disasters including the 2015 Nepal Earthquake disaster; the 2011 Japan Earthquake/Tsunami catastrophe; the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Chief Collins has been an active member of the FEMA US&R Incident Support Teams (IST), having served since 1995 as a US&R Specialist, Division/Group Supervisor, Branch Director, and Operations Section Chief to help coordinate federal urban search and rescue operations at Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, Ivan, Ike, Rita, Frances, Gustav, Irene, Dennis, Wilma, Dolly, Earl, and most recently Mathew. As an IST member, he also responded to the 9/11 Attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, and various national security events and exercises. 

Chief Collins left LACoFD with a record of innovative leadership and actualizing informed visions for the future of the fire/rescue services. During his employment with LACoFD, Chief Collins demonstrated his ability to initiate, institute, and successfully manage unique improvements and enhancements to public safety. This included many years of invaluable inter-agency and multidisciplinary experiences, collaborations, and innovations that continue to have local, state, national, and international impact. Chief Collins’ diverse list also includes: founding of LACoFD’s Swiftwater Rescue Program and the continued development of LACoFD’s US&R Program, working with Cal OES and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on development of the state and national US&R systems, also working with Cal OES on developing the statewide swiftwater rescue team network, mud and debris flow response protocols and rescue procedures, fireground rapid intervention protocols, active shooter response procedures, aquatic helicopter swiftwater workshop rescue evolutions, terrorism planning and response, new approaches to diverse challenges like trench and excavation collapse rescue, large animal rescue, confined space/deep shaft rescue, and the use of technology to improve search and rescue. His experiences even included new designs for firefighter turnouts/bunker gear to improve the speed by which downed firefighters can be rescued.

Chief Collins frequently served as a bridge between emergency response and the sciences, industry, and government agencies helping to innovate multidisciplinary programs like the California Shakeout Earthquake Exercise; the California Catastrophic Earthquake Plan; the L.A. County Tsunami Plan, and the Post-Station Fire Mud and Debris Flow Response Plans. Chief Collins has been able to communicate and articulate the visions, innovations, and lessons learned to fire/rescue service operators and the public by authoring reports, published articles, and books. Ironically, author Dete Messerve based a main character in her novels “Good Sam” and “Perfectly Good Crime” on Chief Collins and his work.

Chief Collins is also a recipient of the Carnegie Hero Fund Award (1983), and the L.A. County Community Protector Award. He was named as firefighter of the year in several of LACoFD’s contract cities, and he received the Lifetime Achievement and team awards from the Higgins/Langley Memorial Fund for Swiftwater Rescue.


Cal OES Fire & Rescue

Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces

Sky News Report on the Rescue of Jeanette: Woman rescued after six days Haiti survivor

BUCK HELM — Man Who Lived 90 Hours In Quake Rubble Is Dead

Loma Prieta earthquake: Mercury News coverage, the Buck Helm rescue

4 things EMS providers must know about crush syndrome



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